I wonder if this is what it felt like
when I was married
looking in from the outside,
fresh set of eyes
unclouded by fables of love
seeing through the promises
and conveniently timed
one-eighty degree turn-arounds
while balancing the feelings
of that one you love so much
but can’t speak the truth to.
Such a powerless feeling,
how did you do it?
I get poetry for my anniversary :)
A year marks another passage
of the earth around the sun,
but a year is not a unit of measurement,
not a way to see how far we went,
just a reminder that we got there,
and nowhere is this phenomenon
better observed than on those dates when
we celebrate what happened the last time
we were at this exact place
in the solar system.
I remember when I walked you
to your car, and asked you if I could
see you again, and you shrugged slyly
and smiled as you drove away,
leaving me to only hope, hope, hope.
And this is exactly what I was doing
a year ago, and what I am doing now
because bright futures are built on the foundation
that the best days are yet to come.
So I hope, hope, hope to see that
beautiful smile again at the end
of the next trip around the sun.
Once upon a time
I needed to be alone.
I claimed it gave me
what little sanity
I could claim.
I grew irritable in its absence.
I wrote in its embrace.
Once upon a time
I thought I’d lost my words,
or just my sadness,
in return for finding
Once upon a time
I recognized that look on your face
that meant you had an idea,
and I knew you would write
and I loved that I knew you
that well by now.
Once upon a time
I wasn’t quite sure
what happiness meant
but it didn’t really matter
It’s that space where
your arm meets your shoulder,
where my head rests perfectly
and my lips reach just below your chin,
it’s the sound of smiling
that is immeasurable yet
warms your insides
in the most pleasant of ways,
and it’s the way that I can
when you declare
“I’m gonna marry you someday.”
They said witnesses had mistaken
her blood for a red dress
covering her naked and bruised body
-there was so much-
as she stumbled into the
movie theater parking lot
in the northwest corner,
of metropolitan suburbia
last Thursday night
as the late show let out.
I wondered her name,
withheld by local media,
and grade level, a sophomore
or junior at sixteen,
I wondered if she was black or white
or brown or yellow,
I wondered if she was beautiful
before she’d been dressed in that gown
by that unidentified man
and I wondered if she’d survive.
But mostly I just wondered
how I was supposed
to keep my own daughter safe.
I’m recovering from the flu. Having spent the last 4 days in bed, I grudgingly returned to work today. Today was hard and today was long. The closing manager was nice enough to let me go home 45 minutes early. Then I got caught behind a wreck on my already long commute home.
I’d left tonight’s dinner on the counter for my oldest to cook for my youngest since I wouldn’t make it home until after dinner-time. I called to find out if she would start the pasta boiling. She reminded me that I told her earlier this morning that I’d drive through somewhere on the way home. Everyone who knows me well knows you don’t make commitments with me when I’m half asleep. I will not remember. Period. So we argued.
I drove through somewhere anyway and didn’t get anything for myself because I’d already been stressing about the amount of money left in my bank account compared to the amount of shit I still needed to spend money on and sure I get paid Friday, but rent is due then too and I’m owed child support from my ex and rent from my brother on Friday as well but neither has been very reliable lately, so instead I stopped and bought myself cigarettes and tampons. I meant to get myself some soup too, but I forgot.
I finally made it home and handed off dinner and gave my youngest 45 minutes before he had to do his homework during which I was already expecting a fight because there’s a major science test tomorrow and he hasn’t been doing too hot in science and this just wasn’t going to be fun.
I went into my bedroom and locked the door and took off my shoes. I stripped my bed of the sheets and pillow cases that were still wet from when my fever finally broke sometime in the middle of the night and I went to the bathroom and fought the urge to vomit, but luckily there wasn’t anything in my stomach anyway. So, I finally sat down and I powered on my Mac and logged into Facebook and lit a cigarette when I heard, “MMOOMM!!!!!!”
This isn’t unusual. It’s my youngest and he screams to me from across the house about anything and everything, so I ignore it.
“MMMMOOOOOMMMM!” he screams even louder.
I ignore it.
“MMMMMMOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM! THE TOILET!”
God damn it, I have to actually get up this time. By the time I make it to the bathroom there’s a disgusting brown mixture of water and shit and toilet paper flowing onto the zebra print rugs and the empty rolls and clothes-littered floor. And these aren’t nice and neat logs either. Where is that damn plunger? I sprint back to my room and retrieve the plunger from my bathroom and make it back to the offending toilet just in time to see the predicament magically fix itself and drain what hadn’t yet spilled to the floor as if there’d never been a clog at all.
You would think that would have made me feel better, wouldn’t you?
Instead, I burst into tears and thought about how the washer is still broken and I still need a new mop and I don’t even have any of those yellow gloves and how the fuck was I going to clean all this up?
I completely lost it and maybe it was just time I had a good, long cry. It’s been a while. I’m okay now. The bathroom is too.
“Do we at least get to socialize?” my daughter asked me as I waited with her and her friends in the massive line wrapped two blocks down the side street to get into the Of Mice and Men show last night. I was taking her and one of her best friends and we’d run into several kids they knew from school.
What she meant was “Do we at least get to socialize without you.” But she knew the answer would have been no. We’d already been through this. She’s just fourteen and despite all her begging, I’m not ready to let her go to a show by herself.
Maybe it’s because I’m afraid she’ll get hurt, because she’s at that age when the excitement is next to the mosh pit and the closer she gets, the better it is, but that’s where noses are broken and phones are dropped and shoes are lost and girls are groped and I just can’t let go. I want to be there to push the sweaty kids away from her and show her just how to keep her hands in front of her to do the same, or how to spot the crowd surfers before you get a foot in the head and which way is the best way to balance their weight when they’re heavier than you.
I slip outside for a smoke and a trio of young twenty-somethings comments on my shoes.
“My sister just got pair like that, but pink!” one says. “They’re so cute!”
They’re not special. They’re just blue Vans. The old, classic style, because that’s the style I still like. But everyone thinks it’s retro now, I guess.
“Did you come by yourself?” another asks.
“No, I’m here with my daughter and her friends,” I explain.
This opens the door to a conversation I’m now having for the second time this evening and I’ve long since been a pro at reciting. It usually goes something like, “Yes, I’m old enough to have a fourteen-year-old. Thanks I love that I look young, it’ll pay off when I’m even older.” Then it’s how cool of a mom I am and their mothers would have never taken them to a show and omg you’re up front with them?! and wow how cool is that?! I must admit, I felt pretty cool for the moment.
Then it’s back inside and I’ve got to warn the girls because the tall guys next to us are smoking a blunt and I know they recognize the smell by now, and this is why she can’t come to these things alone yet! And I can’t forget my own firsthand experience on what kind of trouble teenagers can get into when they go to shows by themselves. The kind of trouble you see in after-school specials, the kind of trouble you read about in books written about girls named Alice or boys named Jay, the kind of trouble that was sure to present itself at the good old neighborhood music venue, that was our kind of trouble. But some of us made it, and some of us didn’t.
And while I’ve certainly got my fears about my baby growing up, I think the real reason I won’t let her go alone yet is I just flat-out love taking her to shows. We always have a blast and I do believe that somewhere along the night she forgets that I’m supposed to be the dorky, tag-a-long mom, whether she wants to admit it or not.
“You know, every time you walked away Carlos kept saying how cool you were, “ my daughter told me as we walked to the car after the show.
I think that’s as close as I’m gonna get, but I’ll take it.
I saw my reflection
in the steam fogged mirror
for the first time in
what seemed like years,
I didn’t avoid eye contact
with myself the way
I don’t even notice
anymore that I do
until I notice.
I saw my face and
I noticed my wrinkles,
how when my face is relaxed
my brow is permanently furrowed
and my laugh lines are faint,
the crow’s feet now deeper
than the skin under my eyes
that hasn’t felt taut
in too long to care
but my eyes are brighter
than I can remember possible
and my lips are soft with use
my skin bears traces
of your fingertips that
only I can see
and I feel beautiful.
It hit me all of a sudden,
as suddenly as something
that has festered beneath the layers
of my consciousness
could ever astonish me.
An acute awareness
both a tangled knot deep
in my belly and an
ease of breath, as if
my lungs suddenly inflated
and my heart didn’t hurt
quite so much anymore.
It was that moment
when I not only knew,
that I had to walk away.
What was different
was that I knew
I could do it.